Cattleblogging: A Manifesto

  1. The tradition of catblogging Fridays has been long established.  It has a wikipedia entry.  It is touted on the WordPress splash page as a potential use for your new blog.  The first follower of this blog, blessings be upon him, is an inveterate catblogger.
  2. Cats are fascinating creatures, to be sure.  But they are small.  True, one hears stories of lonely men keeping Bengal tigers in the second bathroom of their Brooklyn walk-up, but these men seem to be too busy to catblog.  (If any do, please let me know so that I can follow them at once.)  Moreover, not only are cats small but they are not really edible.  Or so I hear.  Not even the Chinese have recipes that feature them.
  3. Blogging pictures of these small and inedible creatures seems to be confined to the urbs and suburbs. Much of early catblogging consisted of what appeared to be hundreds of photos of the same four cats shot in various poses against the same white sheetrock wall.  Oddly enough these photographs did all come from different IP addresses.  While catblogging has perhaps improved artistically and technically, it’s hard to find catbloggers who focus on taking pictures of their cats as they stalk field mice in the Kansas bluestem of the Flint Hills, or take pictures of Maine coon cats prowling through the Maine Woods. Catblogging seems likely to remain a primarily indoor occupation.
  4. This blog is a representation of some of my scholarly and intellectual interests.  Among these are what John Fea has cunningly termed the “Rural Enlightenment” of the eighteenth century.  I am, however, even more interested in a Rural Enlightenment–or Rural Renaissance, or Reformation, or Rebirth–of the 21st century.  This interest is deeply personal.  Noel Perrin entitled one of his books First Person Rural, and I think I can say the same of my own personal identity.  In some way I don’t fully understand myself, I in large part understand myself in relation to the rural landscape in which I grew up.
  5. My early life has thus given me an appreciation for the rural; for place; for the idea that to be cosmopolitan we have to first understand one specific and unique place; and for those who feed us.  As a kid I referred to all those who owned land near us with the honorific “Farmer.”  I remember thinking that if some people were Doctors, why shouldn’t these men be “Farmers.”  In retrospect this was a very wise choice.  These were the men, after all, who fed me and thee. Shouldn’t we refer to those who save us from starvation with an honorific?
  6. The Farmers I most admired and still admire, then and now, were those who had something of everything on their farm.  Naturally all such men had to have a cow, for how else were they to get milk? Their farms were happy, busy places.

Thus cattle are for me a feature of the best of rural life, and thus a symbol of place, of rootedness, of a pre-modern response (or post-modern rightly-understood response) to the anomie and rootlessness of modern life.  They are responsible for keeping us alive. And they cannot be photographed inside an apartment.

Floreat Cattleblogging!

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Cattleblogging: A Manifesto

  1. Tina Howard

    Hi Al,
    Very enjoyable read. We also are interested in a Rural Renaissance. We are enjoying learning all sorts of new skills. We just made our first farm sale this week – a pastured pig!

    I look forward to reading more of your entries. Please come see us sometime if you are ever near Nashville. We are an hour west of there. We’d love to visit with you and show you around our homestead.

    Maybe sometime you could post some of your favorite reads about rural life.

    • azambone

      Tina,

      So sorry to be so tardy in responding to your lovely comments, and to a Facebook message from you that I found long after it would have been helpful to have a response. I will look for an excuse to come to Nashville, so that I can come see you guys. Did you slaughter the pig? Butcher it? Are the kids becoming farm kids…kids who have pets that they eat?

      And you offer good suggestions, which I will take up in the next month or so.

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